Here are 15 useful phrases to practice before you come to Jordan (or anywhere else in the Middle East). You will notice, however, that the slang differs from country to country, but these words are the same in each country. The Arabic language is a deep and expressive language and the word ‘hello’ is no exception. There are so many different ways to greet people and say hello in Arabic. Below you will find the common phrases you will hear throughout your time in Jordan.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic. Using an alphabet very unlike your own, it is one of the most
difficult of languages to learn. I have tried to use a pocket phrase book to learn some basics, but I did not find them useful at all. If there are 10 phrases you master while you are in Jordan, these are them
A few things to note is to not get caught up in the spelling. Because the words are translated phonetically into latin letters, you will find that many Arabic words can be spelt many ways.
Useful Arabic Phrases in Jordan
1. “Shukran” Thank You
“Shukran” is Thank You. Learn this one first, you will use it all the time. By the time you leave Jordan it will be rolling off your tongue.
2. “Afwan” You’re Welcome
“Afwan” translates to you’re welcome. This is what you may get as a reply, or you will get “you’re welcome.” The last time I was in Jordan it took four days before I received an “afwan” to my “shukran.” It just depends on where you are staying and what you are doing. Places that are used to English tourists, such as five-star hotels, will typically speak in English back to guests.
3. “Ahlan wa sahlan” Welcome
“Ahlan wa sahlan” translates to Welcome. This one is said very fast and is hard to catch the first few times. Shukran is a perfect response.
“Inshallah” literally means “God willing” and is used as a response to almost anything. Typically you will hear it after saying something like “See you again soon” You will get “Inshallah” as a response
“Salaam Alaikum” or “Salam” – Traditional Arabic uses Salaam Alaikum as a hello greeting. It literally translates to “peace be upon you”. It can be used on all occasions. “Alaykum salam” is the standard response that means “and unto you peace.” However in Jordan, the language is a lot more casual and you will hear locals greet each other with “Salam” (and a kiss on each cheek or a handshake – males to males and females to females. Males will not initiate contact to females) as often as you hear “Salaam Alaikum“
5. “Sabah el kheir” Good morning.
“Sabah el kheir” means Good morning. You can reply with “Sabah el kheir” or “Sabah al noor” You may also hear “Sabaho” as a short form that translates to morning.
6. “Marhaba” Hello
“Marhaba” is simply hello in Arabic. It is not as common in Jordan as in other countries. You will more often here “Ahlan wa sahlan” which is welcome.
7. “Nos Dinar” Half a dinar
When shopping everything is either half or one dinar. “nos” or “nos dinar” translates to half a dinar. This is usually relvent when buying tea or coffee on the street.
8. “Ramadan Kareem” Happy Ramadan
This is useful if you are visiting Jordan during Ramadan. You can also use “Ramadan mubarak”
9. “Asef” Sorry
This is one you will not use too much, but I thought it should be included.
10. “La” No
La means no. Jordanians are polite and expect politeness back. if you are not interested in something, a good response is “la shukran.” Note that the “La” is short, not laaaa.
11. “Naam” or “Ah” Yes
You hear “ah” for yes a lot in Jordan. But “naam” is the actual Arabic for yes.
12. “Shu Ismak” What is your name?
Depending on whether you are speaking to a male or female, shu Ismak translates to “What is your name?” But the pronunciation will be slightly different. Sho Ismak? (m) is for male. Sho Ismek? (f) is for female. The answer is, “ismi _______” for example, if someone says to me “Shu Ismek?” I would reply with “ismi Lindsay”
13. “Habibi ” my love or Buddy
Habibi is a term of endearment for just about anyone in Jordan. It can be used as a way to get someone’s attention or to also show affection.
14. “Yalla” Lets Go
If you are taking a tour, you are sure to hear your tour guide say “Yalla, lets go!” to your group. Yalla translates to Lets go! and is commonly heard in Jordan.
15. “Ma’assalama” Goodbye
“Ma’assalama” translates to Goodbye. This one is a bit of a mouthful also. If you think of is as “massa” “llama” it might stick in your head better.
Lindsay fell in love with Jordan when she first visited in 2016. She now goes back every year to explore more of this special place. Lindsay is also the owner of Amman Food Tours, a social enterprise that is women-owned and hires local female guides. This project provides meaningful employment for women in Amman.